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December 10, 2012

MAHANOY CITY – A fire last night in Schuylkill County leaves five people temporarily homeless. The fire broke out around 11:30 p.m. at a double home at 335 East Pine Street. Heavy smoke was reported coming from the home’s second floor when firefighters arrived and fire crews battled the blaze which was located in one of the bedrooms of the home. The home is owned by John and Cathleen Leso. The Leso’s were home at the time along with Debra Forker. Two others were not home at the time of the fire. No one suffered injuries. The cause of the fire is under investigation and a State Police Fire Marshal has been called. All residents will be staying with family members.
Jim Diehl (WGRC)

SHENANDOAH - A 44-year-old Shenandoah man was taken to a hospital after the SUV he was driving slammed into a garage in the borough Saturday morning. Shenandoah police say Rafael Lopez, was taken to Geisinger Medical Center for treatment of a head injury he suffered in the crash on East Centre Street just after 11:00 a.m. Police say Lopez was driving on a rain soaked Route 54 on a downhill grade through a sharp left curve when he lost control. His vehicle slid across the roadway and slammed into a garage at 700 East Centre Street. No one in the home was hurt.
(WGRC)

DANVILLE - Dental records could not identify the man found dead in a scorched vehicle Wednesday morning so further testing will be done. Montour County Coroner Scott Lynn says he was present for the autopsy Friday in Lehigh County. DNA tests will be the next step in identifying the body. Lynn said he may have results as early as today or Tuesday. Authorities have an idea about who was in the car, and that person’s family has been informed of the need for further testing. But Lynn and other officials will not release a name until they have positively identified the man. State Police found a car burning about 4:45 a.m. Wednesday near the state game lands off Baldtop Road in Liberty Township. The car had been burning for a while before it was discovered, and all that was left were the metal components of the car. State Police say the death does not appear suspicious.
(WGRC)

MUNCY - Charges will be filed against three who allegedly failed to provide proper care for 12 dogs in Muncy Creek Township. The individuals, who have yet to be named, live on Chestnut Street in the township. Lawrence Woltz, Lycoming County SPCA humane officer tells the Sun Gazette that he received numerous reports from neighbors who were concerned about the dog's welfare, and after repeatedly visiting the individuals to council them on proper pet care, members of the SPCA served a warrant to the residents on Friday afternoon. In all, officers collected twelve dogs, including two beagles, two Labrador mixes, and one retriever collie. The animals in some cases were exposed to the elements, no access to clean food and water or bedding. Several of the dogs were also suffering from various ailments. Woltz says people are found guilty of animal neglect or abuse may be forced to pay a fine, or spend a short stint behind bars.
(WGRC)

DANVILLE - Someone broke into vending machines at the Interstate 80 rest area near Danville from Saturday morning into Sunday night, stealing money from the machines meant to benefit the blind. State Police say there were four vending machines owned by North Central Sight Services of Williamsport at the westbound rest area. And all four were broken into, with damage to them expected to “exceed hundreds of dollars.” The vandals took “an undetermined amount” of money. Anyone with information on the Danville rest-stop break-in is asked to call state police, Milton.
Jim Diehl (WGRC)

FRIEDENSBURG – Police in Schuylkill County are looking for the bandits that broke into a Schuylkill County pharmacy early Sunday morning. Troopers say they were called to that break-in just before three a.m. at the Glad RX Pharmacy along Route 183 in Friedensburg. Police say two people arrived to the rear of the pharmacy on a four wheeler. The two bandits pried open a rear door to get inside and then tried to pry open a drug safe inside the pharmacy. When the bandits couldn’t get inside the safe they left the scene. Anyone with information on the break-in is asked to call state police, Schuylkill Haven.
Jim Diehl (WGRC)

WILLIAMSPORT - A Loyalsock Township man was charged late last week with stealing from the school district he was hired to provide security for. 30-year-old Brian Melvin is accused of stealing several hundreds of dollars worth of computer equipment from classrooms at the Williamsport Area high School as well as Round Hills Elementary school. The thefts took place between mid-September and mid-November while Melvin was serving as a security guard in the district.  Melvin is free on $25,000 dollars bail.
(WGRC)

BLOOMSBURG - A man working at a roadside Christmas tree business here was jailed Thursday on child porn charges. The Press Enterprise reports, 28-year-old Jeremy Box, of Honesdale, was arrested at the Klinger Fresh Fruit tree stand along Route 11 in Scott Township. He is accused of sexual abuse of children and criminal use of a computer. Police say he had movie files and 54 images depicting child pornography on his laptop. Box is jailed in Columbia County under $75,000 bail.
(WGRC)

HARRISBURG – A lawyer for former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky says his client has gotten his fighting spirit back after his child abuse conviction and sentencing. Attorney Karl Rominger tells the Associated Press, Sandusky hopes prison officials will find a way to house him under less restrictive conditions. Rominger met with Sandusky for several hours Friday at Greene State Prison in southwestern Pennsylvania. He says his client’s outlook has improved since he was sentenced two months ago to decades behind bars even though he’s alone in his cell for at least 23 hours a day. He says Sandusky’s “fight is 100 percent back” and he’s working on an upcoming hearing and planning appeals.
(WGRC)

UNIVERSITY PARK - Penn State will make the first of five payments to its $60 million fine to the NCAA on December 20th, the university reported Friday. The money from the fine, paid out over five years, will be used to create an endowment that will support programs on child sexual abuse prevention and victims services. It was part of the punishment leveled on Penn State by the NCAA in the fallout of the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal after the Freeh report concluded by accusing senior leaders at Penn State of hushing abuse allegations. The first installment, $12 million, will be pulled from the university’s coffers and plunked in a money market account, at the request of the NCAA. The money will not go into the endowment right away, it appears, as the NCAA is still working out the details of how the endowment will work and who or what groups or services will benefit from the millions of dollars in the endowment. The NCAA has said from the outset that at least 25 percent of the $60 million will stay inside the state. Last week State Senator Jake Corman, put that in writing Thursday in a letter to NCAA President Mark Emmert. Corman said the money should stay in Pennsylvania and he wanted a face-to-face meeting with Emmert to make his point.
(WGRC)

UNIVERSITY PARK - A Centre County lawmaker will propose legislation this week that he said would “significantly reform” how Penn State’s board of trustees is run. The proposed legislation by state Representative Scott Conklin set to be announced Tuesday, was spurred by the recommendations from state Auditor General Jack Wagner. His report said Penn State’s governance needs reforming, starting with limiting the powers of the president. Conklin has said he would seek to remove the university president as a voting member of the board of trustees, keep the president from being on committees, shrink the size of the board, and make the Right-to-Know Law apply to Penn State. Conklin said he thinks the reforms would make Penn State more transparent and accountable. Penn State spokesman David La Torre said the university welcomes the input from Conklin. Trustees Chairwoman Karen Peetz has said her fellow board members will discuss Wagner’s recommendations, among other feedback, at a retreat in January. The state House of Representatives returns to work in January.
(WGRC)

NORTHUMBERLAND - The Wreaths for Warriors program honored about 300 veterans buried in Riverview Cemetery on Sunday. This is the seventh year the program has collected and laid wreaths at graves in cemeteries in Snyder, Union and northern Northumberland counties. This year, a total of 1,200 wreaths were laid on servicemen and women’s graves on Saturday and Sunday. Since the first year of the project in 2006, all of the wreaths have been provided by Kohl’s Stony Hill Christmas tree farm near Washingtonville.
(WGRC)

LOCK HAVEN - A tragedy sparked a friendship about six months ago in Clinton County. That new friendship is becoming the catalyst for a fledgling group seeking to combat the destructive decisions that youngsters are likely to make during the most vulnerable stages of their lives. The group - "Impact+" - grew out of several Facebook chats focusing on the tragic death of 18-year-old Bobby Wise of Woolrich. Wise, a senior at Central Mountain High School, died on May 25 after smoking gel from the prescription drug, Fentanyl. His death came just days before he was to graduate from Central Mountain High School. Four other teens have been charged in connection with his death. Since then the group has had two meetings and is now officially announcing the formation of IMPACT+: Parents And Community Taking Action Against Destructive Decisions. The mission statement for IMPACT+ is: "To unite, advocate, and bring awareness of destructive decisions - drug, alcohol, and other substance abuse issues - through prevention, education, enforcement, and treatment in order to positively impact our community." IMPACT+ intends to collaborate with youth, the Keystone Central School District, S.A.D.D., community partners, government entities, sports organizations, businesses, faith groups, etc. to encourage evidence-based prevention and education.
(WGRC)

DANVILLE - A Geisinger Health System administrator says the company is studying the potential for a business partnership to create a natural gas fueling station. Al Neuner says the review is part of a continuing evaluation of a state grant program providing incentives for using natural gas to fuel fleet vehicles like large trucks and, in Geisinger's case, shuttle buses. Department of Environmental Protection is offering $20 million over the next three years through its Natural Gas Vehicle Grant Program. The funding covers about half the incremental costs to convert or purchase a fleet of at least five vehicles. Geisinger has been researching the use of natural gas vehicles over the past year. Neuner says it’s too early to speculate where a potential fueling station would be constructed if the project were to become reality.
(WGRC)

ALLENWOOD - For at least one more year, Union County residents won’t be taxed to fund bond payments for the nearly vacant 670-acre Great Stream Commons industrial park. Union County’s frequent renegotiating of the terms of the $12 million loan used to purchase the Gregg Township site 12 years ago has resulted in $491,000 in savings that will be used to cover bills due in May and November. Union County Commissioners say the County has been able to save enough money to pay for 2013. However, bond payments climb to $986,000 in 2014. Commissioners say 2013 may be the time to sign tenants as there are only three tenants at the Gregg Township site. While a Target store distribution Center is still in the picture for locating at the industrial park, new word also points to a possible manufacturing facility at the Commons, however details are few as the County’s Industrial Development Authority looks to entice prospects.
(WGRC)

LOCK HAVEN - Developers and businesses seeking tax breaks in Clinton County should be dealing with a more unified system soon. The county, City of Lock Haven and Keystone Central School District are in agreement about offering the same tax discounts over the same time period, three years for most projects. City Council unanimously approved the three-year proposal for the tax breaks, known as Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance. Council took the first of two required votes on the subject last week. Tax breaks for commercial projects would be offered as 100 percent tax forgiveness the first year, 75 percent the second and 50 percent the third, with the full tax amount kicking in for the fourth and subsequent years. Tax breaks for industrial and manufacturing projects would be offered on a 10-year schedule, with 100 percent tax forgiveness the first year and the discount reducing by 10 percent every year thereafter.
(WGRC)

WILLIAMSPORT – In Lycoming County, windmills are sweeping thousands of dollars into McIntyre Township over the next 25 years. Each year over that time Duke Energy Renewables will be sending the township $36,000. It's all part of a deal the township signed with the North Carolina-based energy company for locating windmills in the county. The 30 windmills are all in place, many of them visible along Laurel Ridge in McIntyre Township. The windmills produce enough electricity to power 20,000 homes. The work was completed during the summer to erect the wind turbines. The Lycoming County Planning Commission in 2011 approved land development plans for the wind farm proposed by Laurel Hill Wind Energy, the parent company of Duke Energy. That finally brought an end to long years of struggle between groups either favoring or opposing the project.
(WGRC)

BLOOMSBURG - The town of Bloomsburg has bought out the first of 11 properties in the 900 block of West Main Street, an area ravaged by the Lee flood. It finalized the purchase a brick house previously owned by Rosalie Strouse, on Friday. Bloomsburg paid nearly $80,000 between land acquisition and closing costs. The Press enterprise reports, the town plans to finalize eight other purchases over the next week, leaving two remaining for the new year. It will spend about $800,000 of its own money. Of that, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency will reimburse all but 1.5 percent of the purchase prices.
(WGRC)

SUNBURY - You are cordially invited to the City of Sunbury’s Redevelopment Authority’s Open House on Wednesday at 202 Washington Avenue in Sunbury. The open house will be held from two to six p.m. The house represents the first of many redevelopment projects in the City of Sunbury where the City bought the house, refurbished it and plan to resell it. On Saturday, December 15th the public is then invited to view the house at nine a.m. prior to the auction of the home which is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m.  (WGRC)

MILTON - 200 kids and their families came out for the fifth annual Magical Memories Wish Kid holiday party in Northumberland County on Saturday. Children enjoyed lots of music and goodies to snack on. Some of these kids are facing life threatening and terminal illnesses and spend a lot of time seeing doctors. Their parents said this party helps them get away from all of that, even for just one day. The party held at the Christ Wesleyan Church in Milton, attracted families from Montour, Columbia, Snyder, Union and Northumberland counties. The event is made possible through community and civic donations. Several groups including the Sunbury Legion Riders donated to make the party a reality.
(WNEP)

HARRISBURG - Pennsylvania is expected to maintain its status as a top Christmas tree-producing state as farms gear up for their busiest month. The commonwealth is home to some 1,200 Christmas tree farms that produce one-point-two million cut trees each year. Stacy Zimmerman with the Pennsylvania Christmas Tree Growers Association says the industry is one of the tops in the country. She says, “Pennsylvania ranks second in the nation in the number of Christmas tree farms, and fourth in the number of Christmas trees that are cut each year and in acres of production." Oregon is the number one state in all of those categories.
(WGRC)

HARRISBURG - All 67 of Pennsylvania’s counties have certified their vote totals from the November 7 election. The certified totals reported Friday by state elections officials show that 5.7 million Pennsylvanians cast ballots for president. The Associated Press reports, Democratic President Barack Obama received 52 percent of the vote over Governor Mitt Romney’s 42 percent. The Green and Libertarian party candidates each received less than 1 percent of the vote.
(WGRC)